Saturday, July 4, 2015

KonaRed Hawaiian Coffeeberry


I know I am classifying this under "coffee", but this is not coffee. If you read the label, you will notice that it clearly says that no coffee beans are present in this beverage. What this is made of is the fruit that surrounds the Kona coffee bean. That's right, the fleshy part around the bean...along with some other stuff. Though there is some naturally occurring caffeine (around 54 mg), the goal of this drink is to not jazz/jack you up in the traditional sense.

OK, so if this isn't coffee, then what is it and what does it taste like? Well, it smells like a combination of cranberries, pineapple and apple juice, but it tastes like blend of apple, pineapple and something like a cranberry. That must be what the fleshy part of the coffee bean tastes like. It is just a little tart, like several levels below that of cranberries, and there is some light natural bitterness, and damn is it good. Yeah, so good I could barely stop myself from drinking the whole bottle at once. The apple and pineapple provide just enough sweetness to compliment the flavor of the fleshy part without stealing anything away from it. Damn, it is good. Buy it.

Taste - 9.5/10...very unique and tasty

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Blu-Dot Protein Tea Orange Pineapple Green Tea


Wow, what a long name - Blue-Dot Protein Tea Orange Pineapple Green Tea...you see the redundancy in the name there?

Well, the Blue-Dot tea is available at many places around our neck of the woods (Toronto) and I got mine from the local Loblaws for $2.99. Being a protein tea, the bottle contains 12 grams of protein and 6 grams of fibre.

This Blue-Dot has an amazing orange aroma with just a bit of tangerine. The flavor is on the lighter end of the spectrum at the start of each sip, but after the initial tongue hit, the flavors emerge. Orange is predominant and the pineapple doesn't come until well into the finish. The green tea? Well, that can be felt at the back of the tongue in between sips...so yeah, not very strong but there. Unfortunately, because this is a sugar-free beverage, the artificial sweetener (stevia) is way too heavy for my liking and I think it ends up taking this down a few notches. The added protein tends to dry out the aftertaste which I found counter-productive to the whole "orange-refreshing" image this bottle seems to broadcast. It also adds a soy-heavy note, which like the "stevia", I do not like.

I found this to be refreshing while drinking, but once you stop and let the artificial sweetener creep up, it knocks the beverage down a bit.

Taste - 6/10

Monday, June 29, 2015

U Force Sugar Free Energy Drink


I obviously just had to have the sugar free version of the U Force I tried a week ago. I got this from a gas station outside of Quebec City for $2 and I haven't seen this sold in Ontario.

Taste

The regular U Force was a Red Bull clone with a bite. It reminded me of Red Rain. This one smells like a Monster/Red Bull clone with a heavy cough syrup-like presence. The flavor, though, has a lot of bite and makes it hard to identify if this tastes more like a Red Bull or a Monster. I am leaning more towards the Red Bull since there is no cough syrup or candy-like sweetness in the taste. All I can taste is citric acid, maybe a few traces of Red Bull-like flavor and Granny Smith apples near the finish. The finish has a sweetener note, but luckily the citric acid keeps under control for the most parts.

Overall, this energy drink is sour and hard to pinpoint the exact flavor....maybe I shall call this flavor "engineered".

Energy

There are 150 mg of caffeine in the can and the effects are felt within 10 minutes by the way of a slightly jittery alertness. Sitting at the desk, I felt my leg starting to shake a little. Nothing serious as serious as sugary drinks, but still.

In another 20 minutes I was feeling borderline uncomfortably energetic. As in, the energy was halfway between "run around in circles"-type physical and "alert and focused"-type clean energy. Luckily after another 20 minutes the feeling went down a notch and I just felt energized. The kick lasted for around 3 hours and finished mostly without drama.

Scores:
Cost - $2
Taste - 7/10
Energy - 8/10

Overall - 15/20...engineered flavor resembling Red Bull/Monster mix with a strong citric bite, and a decent kick

Saturday, June 27, 2015

U Force Energy Drink


U Force has been around for as long as I have been running this blog, and maybe even longer. However, the first time I ever heard of these energy drinks and came in contact with them wasn't until just a few weeks ago when I was in Quebec City. I pulled up to get gas on my way out when I found a stash of these for $2 each.

So here is to trying something old!

Taste

To establish a baseline, I am starting off with the regular flavor, which I half expected to be a Red Bull clone and I was pretty bang on when I actually opened the can...or was it?

Yeah, I was mostly right. The regular U Force is a Red Bull clone but its flavor is more similar to Red Rain with an extra citric kick and what seems to be a little less sugar. If you haven't had Red Rain, the taste is very similar, but has less of the candy-sweetness and cough syrup and more of a sour bite. The finish is moderately clean and doesn't leave you with any off-flavors.

Energy

There are 150 mg of caffeine in the can, which is the equivalent of 0.317 mg caffeine/mL. For comparison, a can of Red Bull clocks in at 0.32 mg caffeine/mL. Pretty damn close, eh?

The effects are very similar to drinking a can of Red Bull, except the kick lasts longer since there is almost twice as much caffeine. I got a slight jolt within 10 minutes and just a bit of jitters. In another 20 minutes I was bursting with energy and ready to run around do stuff. The kick lasted for about just over 3 hours and ended without any surprises.

I personally like Red Bull and love Red Rain's extra sour bite so I naturally liked the regular U Force. The price is right too.

Scores:
Cost - $2
Taste - 8.5/10
Energy - 8/10

Overall - 16.5/20...like Red Bull but with a bite

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Go Fast! Sports Energy Drink


I don't get it. Is it just Go Fast! or Go Fast! Sports, or Go Fast Sports? The label says Go Fast! Sports, but everywhere I look online it is either Go Fast or Go Fast Sports...even on the company website. Anyways, on to the drink. I bought this and a few of its siblings from a gas station near Montreal. Though the company website says that this is available worldwide, I haven't seen it in Ontario, which is odd because the label is heavy on the English, but also has the French translation...so why isn't it sold here?

Taste

This energy drink looks like a Red Bull on the inside with its yellow/orange color, but the aroma is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. Such a mind f...er...twist? I smell everything - chewable Flinstone vitamins, strawberries, cherries, berries, cough syrup, citrus. The flavor is heavy on the chewable vitamins/strawberry/berries with drops of Red Bull and Monster notes here and there. It feels like the company tried making a unique flavor and just tossed in some familiar notes just to make the drinker calm and happy that there is some familiarity here.

The flavor is actually great. It is unique, refreshing and strikes a nice balance between sweetness, sourness and the actual flavors. Wow...where has this been my whole life? I am hooked.

Energy

Though the label makes you believe there is tons of energy in the can, don't be fooled into thinking that it is all caffeine. The caffeine is only 150 mg, but there are lots of other added herbs, roots and vitamins that are supposed to pep you up.

I felt awake and focused without any jitters within 15 minutes. Shortly after I was feeling super energized, but still focused. I think the blend of active ingredients helps keep things under control, yet give you sufficient energy to get physical. Within another 20 minutes I was at the peak and stayed there for about 3-4 hours and came down without crashing. Excellent kick!

Overall, I was very impressed by this energy drink. The taste is unique and the energy is well balanced, yet there is plenty of it. Will buy again when in Montreal.

Scores:
Cost - $2.59
Taste - 9/10
Energy - 8.8/10

Overall - 17.8/20...cheap, great flavor, excellent kick

Monday, June 15, 2015

Station Cold Brew Coffee


It is official, cold brew is picking up steam everywhere. Station Cold Brew Coffee Co. is a Toronto-based company that brews and sells ready to drink cold brew at a number of retailers in Toronto. I picked up one of the ready to drink bottles from The Cold Pressery for $5.

Taste

The coffee is on the lighter side and just a touch hazy. The aroma is intense with heavy chocolate and campfire presence in addition to the expected coffee notes. The taste is smooth and like their promise on their website - less bitter and acidic (OK, the acidic part is also on the label) than traditionally brewed coffee. Like with the aroma, there is a strong chocolate and campfire presence. I also detected notes of roasted nuts. The finish is also smooth and long with more of the chocolate and just a touch of roasted nuts.

This is such a smooth coffee that goes down so well on a hot summer morning. Can't wait to try it warm in the winter.

Energy

According to Station, the small bottles contains 153 mg of caffeine which is quite a lot for a 375 mL container. There is no initial jittery, sugary kick since there is no added sugar, but the effects to start rolling in around the 15 minute mark when I started to feel awake and focused. The focus lasted for about 20 or so minutes until the caffeine fully kicked. I didn't lose the focus immediately, it just started to slowly fade away and be replaced with a more of a physical energy. I bet if I had consumed the bottle slowly, I would have kept that focus going for longer. The kick lasted for about 3.5 hours before starting to fade away. No crash, no drama.

Scores:
Cost - $5
Taste - 10/10
Energy - 8.5/10

Overall - 18.5/20...fantastic cold brew, great kick

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Cold Pressery


The Cold Pressery is one of those hidden gems in an unassuming plaza in your typical office neighbourhood. But walk inside and you are instantly transported into a chic, yet cozy urban setting with reclaimed wood, chalkboards, iPads, designer chairs, exposed concrete, and the list goes on.


The menu is a mix of juices, smoothies, snacks and more substantial meals with vegan options. Everything looks so good that we had a hard time selecting something. Eventually, we settled on the iced coffee and I had the Cold Brew Coffee while my wife had the Tropical Green smoothie.


The Cold Brew Coffee is made with Station Cold Brew Coffee Co,'s concentrated cold coffee and soy milk. There is absolutely no bitterness anywhere, yet there is a rich coffee flavor with a lingering moderate chocolate and roasted nut presence. The coffee is very well rounded thanks to the soy and goes down quickly. If you like Starbucks' iced coffee, you will like this one way better and never go back to Starbucks.


The Tropical Green smoothie is made of pineapple, mango, spinach, kale and almond milk. Though there is a heavy green presence, the smoothie is very fruity with dominating pineapple and mango flavors. The fusion also creates the illusion that there are Granny Smith apples which is a nice added effect. The almond milk adds a smoothness to the smoothie and helps round off the overall flavor. Super delicious and also goes down quickly.

Can't stick around? You can get a whole bunch of juices on the go and that's what I did on my way out.


Coconut Chia Water

If you are like me, the first question you will ask is why this juice is purple if the ingredients list includes only raw coconut water and chia seeds. Well, I am told that when raw coconut water is exposed to air, it starts to oxidize quickly and changes its color. If your coconut water is clear, that means that it contains preservatives, other additives or it has been pasteurized. The raw, unpasteurized coconut water is good for a few days so when you grab a bottle from The Cold Pressery, you better drink it quickly to get the full experience.

Now, on to the Coconut Chia Water. The water has a moderate fresh coconut aroma and a fantastic, rich coconut flavor. It reminds me of time I spent in Vietnam drinking fresh coconut water right from the coconut. The flavor is very intense while you are drinking, but as soon as you are done, your mouth feels clean and fresh with just the tiniest hints of coconut and subtle earthy notes form the chia seeds.

I am not a fan of the canned and bottled coconut water that made a huge entrance on the market a year ago because I find them too sweet, too aromatic and too fake, but this raw coconut water is something else. It cannot be compared to the stuff found in stores. You need to have it.

Melon Mojito

The melon mojito is made of watermelon, cucumber, strawberry and mint...all favorite flavors of mine. The aroma of this one blew me away. I was expecting a sweet strawberry aroma, but I was hit by a super refreshing cucumber aroma, which filled the air around me as soon as I opened the lid. Some subtle hints of mint are also present which make this juice a killer for a hot summer day.

The flavor, however, is dominated by the other ingredients - watermelon and strawberries. The watermelon is first to hit the tongue and provides a solid flavor base all throughout. Strawberries come in second and give the flavor a good amount of candy-like sweetness and some roundness. Some subtle cucumber notes come in at the end and along with the mint give this juice a long-lasting clean finish.

Like the coconut water, the Melon Mojito has a very intense flavor but once you are done, the finish is very clean.

Gold 'n Green

And last, but not least, Gold 'n Green. This juice is made from green cabbage, pineapples, mint and ginger. I know that many people don't like cabbage, but I do. I love cabbage, especially pickled cabbage, so I just had to have a bottle.

This juice has a very refreshing aroma dominated by mint and pineapple. But like the Melon Mojito, the flavor is dominated the other two ingredients - cabbage and ginger....OK and a bit of mint and pineapple. The cabbage is the first thing I can taste, but the flavor is very smooth and mellow. The flavor intensity gets kicked up a notch by the ginger which also adds a bit of spice. The end is rounded off by the smooth pineapple flavor and the mint leaves a long-lasting, fresh aftertaste. Another fantastic juice.

If you are in the GTA and you are looking for a fantastic fresh beverage and a bite to eat, just go to The Cold Pressery. Did I also say it was very close to Square One? Forget the food court and go get a juice and a taco.